The book begins with a Prelude in Blue, which is absolutely beautifully written. Our story begins with the death of Victor van Gogh, which some of his friends see as a mystery to be solved. It is the beginning, but not always the focus. The mystery leads to others, and our main characters of baker/painter Lucien Lessard and his bon vivant/painter friend Henri Toulouse-Lautrec find themselves involved in a plot that has a much farther reach than they could have ever anticipated or imagined. As the Library Journal says, this is one part art history, one part paranormal mystery, and one part love story.
This was my first experience with a work by Christopher Moore. He is, I believe, a young teenage boy at heart. I say this because he seems to delight in sticking swears and genitalia references in his dialogue as often as possible. I can imagine him giggling over his keyboard every time he writes sentences consisting solely of the words “balls” and “penis” (which he does often.) I, however, do not know the man personally, so I may be incorrect. He uses vulgarities quite often, although I suppose it makes the characters a bit more relatable. (Heaven knows I swear like a sailor when I’m with my friends as well.)
Some would find Moore’s writing a bit confusing, as there are many time and point of view jumps. You get used to that after a while, though. I know some rudimentary French, so I could easily keep up with the language switches, but that might put some people off. There are bits of truth mixed in with his fiction. I imagine that a lot of research went into this. So bravo, Christopher Moore, for inspiring me to look deeper into the nonfiction aspects of this world you invited your readers to visit.
This was my first time listening to an audiobook of a work I had not already read. There were pros and cons to this. Pro – I did not fall asleep and run my car off the road in the middle of the night, due to the engaging material. Pro – Every line and vulgarity came as a surprise, as my eyes could not skip ahead and see the page as a whole. Con – I was a bit confused in the beginning with distinguishing the different characters from each other. Sometimes they blurred together in a haze of French names. Con – I like looking at maps, and I could not look up a map as I was enjoying the book while driving. Pro/Con – I could not see the paintings the book was referencing as I was in the car. As a con, I obviously could not look at the details and get a better understanding of what they were referencing in conversation. As a pro, however, I could create a vague vision of what I thought the paintings looked like, or remember what the painting looked like if I had already seen it. I was able to have a picture in my mind of what the characters and their paintings looked like without reality making an appearance.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Moore’s hilariously embellished art history lesson. I look forward to experiencing some of his other works.